The Whetstone boys and girls swimming and diving teams will compete in the City League meet Saturday, Feb. 1, at Thompson Recreation Center and a Division I sectional Feb. 8 at Upper Arlington with relatively young and inexperienced lineups.
But coach John DeRing is looking forward to seeing what the Braves are made of over the next couple of weeks.
"For some of these kids, (the City meet and sectional) will be their first really big meet that they can do, and I look forward to seeing how some of the kids react to swimming in a little bit of a pressure situation," DeRing said.
The Braves are short on seniors this season and have a surplus of young athletes, with most of the upperclassmen residing on the girls team, which is seeking its seventh consecutive City championship.
Senior Alyssa Proudfoot is one of the veterans on the team, and DeRing expects her to be a bright spot for the Braves in the league and sectional meets.
Proudfoot competes in the 100-yard backstroke and on relays. Her season-best time in the 100 back is 1 minute, 22.91 seconds.
"Alyssa is a real leader," DeRing said. "She believes in what we're trying to do. She takes the bull by the horns."
Proudfoot said the Braves have been working on technique leading up to the league meet.
"We're doing a lot of technical stuff, just working with our strokes and just trying to get ready for beating Centennial again," she said.
In last year's league meet, the girls team scored 125 points to finish ahead of Centennial (81), Beechcroft (23) and Eastmoor Academy (2), while the boys team placed second (88) behind Centennial (119) and ahead Eastmoor (46) and Beechcroft (7), ending its streak of sixth consecutive league titles.
DeRing said also expects key contributions on the girls side from senior Emilie Johnson and junior Emma Schaefer.
Johnson swims the 100 butterfly but also is the team's "utility" swimmer, DeRing said.
"She's really doing a good job with that," he said.
Johnson has a season-best 1:14.11 in the 100 fly, while Schaefer has a season-best 6:45 in the 500 freestyle and also competes on relays.
"She's had a very good year," DeRing said of Schaefer. "She keeps knocking time down."
The boys team has only 10 swimmers this season, including a sophomore and five freshmen.
"I've got some up-and-coming freshman boys that are going to be very good," DeRing said.
Freshman Aaron Schaefer has been one of the bright spots for the Braves and is expected to contend in the league meet and at sectional.
He swam a personal-best 5:26.05 in the 500 free earlier this season.
"I haven't had anybody swim that fast in the 20 years I've been doing this," DeRing said. "He's really come on very strong."
Senior Alex Markem is another utility swimmer who does whatever is needed, but his two primary events are the 100 fly and 100 back. His season-best time in the 100 back is 1:03.89, and he leads off the 200 free relay that also features senior Kai Hoenshell, junior Matthew Conroy and Schaefer.
The relay's season-best time is 1:47.28.
"He's very dedicated, and just a nice kid," DeRing said of Markem. "All-around great kid."
Boys basketball team 'playing hard'
The boys basketball team is only 3-12 overall and 3-6 in the City League-North Division, but coach Dean Washington likes the effort he's seen from the players.
"One thing I'll say about the kids is, they're trying hard," he said. "They try to compete, they're giving me all they've got."
Washington said the team still needs to improve defensively, but the Braves have put together some bright spots as of late, including their highest point total of the season in a 103-82 loss to Centennial on Jan. 21.
Junior guard Caleb Brigle had 39 points against the Stars, including six 3-pointers.
"He's learning some things about the game of basketball and about himself," Washington said. "He's becoming more of a complete player."
The Braves lost to the Stars 85-58 on Dec. 13 in the first round of league play.
Wrestlers getting ready for Stars
The wrestling team will play host to Centennial on Wednesday, Feb. 5, in the annual Golden Grappler match.
Whetstone posted a City-North win by beating Linden-McKinley 36-18 during a tri-match Jan. 23 that also included South. The Braves lost to the Bulldogs 38-36, but coach Tom Jones said that the result of the match isn't official yet because of eligibility issues on South's end.
Against Linden, junior Darric McClinton (145 pounds) won by pin (1:29) while the rest of the Braves' wins came via forfeit.
Below are the coming schedules for the Whetstone boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 31 -- At Beechcroft. The Braves lost to the Cougars 113-64 on Jan. 7.
*Feb. 4 -- At Northland. The Braves lost to the Vikings 61-26 on Jan. 10.
*Jan. 31 -- Home vs. Beechcroft. The Braves lost to the Cougars 67-31 on Jan. 7.
Feb. 4 -- At Walnut Ridge
*Jan. 30 -- Teays Valley at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
Feb. 4 -- Ready at Game of Western Columbus
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 1 -- City League meet at Thompson Recreation Center
*Feb. 5 -- Centennial at home